The problem isn’t that you have too much to do. The real problem is that this seemingly unending mountain of tasks seems insurmountable. You feel inadequate. This makes you anxious and unhappy.
There’s no way that any of us could ever do everything we “have to do.” It’s impossible. Because every time we complete one required task two more pop up. Or at least it seems that way.
We can’t eliminate our tasks. But we can reduce and possibly eliminate the anxiety and unhappiness. We can do this by managing the tasks.
It’s easy. Just make a list every day of the things you want to do. Make it manageable. You know how fast you work, and you know the approximate size of each task. Just one day’s worth on your list.
I usually write each day’s list on a 5×8 pad. Amazing how many pads I run through. As I accomplish each task I run a line through its description on the list. I find it very satisfying is to draw that line.
At the end of the day I’m happy if I have accomplished most of the listed items. We are not looking for perfection. We are looking for a sense of pleasure in doing the necessary tasks. We are looking for significantly less anxiety.
Are you a computer person? Use either Word or Excel for your list. Use two columns; one for the item description, the other for the importance of the task. Then sort on the importance column. This is a good way to prioritize each task.
Sometimes I use the computer, sometimes a hand-written list. Depends on the mood. Technology freak or Luddite.
It may take more
Sometimes even the elegantly simple list method is not enough to overcome task anxiety. That’s when we bring in the big gun… the daily schedule. Make a schedule for the start of each task. Become a control freak, just for the day. This one really works. It’s interesting to watch as you fall behind your schedule throughout the day. Even more interesting if you get ahead of the schedule. Make sure to give yourself breaks and rest times, a lunch break, also nap breaks if you are old like me.
The biggest benefit of making a schedule is that it gives you a sense of control. Having too much to do implies that you are “out of control”. This is an excellent way to become anxious and depressed. Making a list re-establishes your control over your life. Your list also helps you gain control over what you agree to do and what you turn down.
What’s the best time to prepare your task list? Just before you go to bed. This helps you calm down and fall asleep. Decreases the time needed to be asleep by around 10 minutes on average. Scientific study and all that.
Convinced? Give it a try. Put it on your task list.